What if the tree huggers are wrong? What is the harm?

Estimated peak oil production,
and when the oil runs out:



First, this is not meant to be a thread to hash out whether or not you believe we are wetting our own bed on a global scale and whether or not wetting the bed has an adverse effect on it's health. Most of us believe it does. Some believe it doesn't. Been there, posted that, getting redundant. Due to the lack of a storeroom full of scale-model test planets on which we can directly infuse with CO2 and see what happens, the believers will never be able to prove it to the satisfaction of the deniers. Nor will the deniers convince the believers that the big ass brown cloud of smog over every major city is just a coincidence and isn't hurting anything. 

My question is this: What if we, on a global scale, reduce our trash output and CO2 to a minimum, switching as much as reasonable to recyclables, renewables, and clean energy, and it turns out to have been totally unnecessary? 100 years from now someone invents a giant climate-O-meter and says, "Oops. Turns out all that smog and hypoxic zones and the continent-sized flotsam fields in the oceans weren't hurting a thing." 

How have we hurt ourselves/what have we lost by going green?

Because whether one believes in Anthropogenic Global Warming or not:

- We have a finite supply of what is the bulk of our energy. Not finite as in thousands of years, but in terms of decades. A century or two at best. 

- There is little argument about the human health hazards of living in a major city engulfed in smog, or having a coal plant in your backyard.

- We are putting out trash faster and in greater volumes than it takes the planet to decompose it. I'm not exaggerating about those trash fields being the size of a continent.

Yes, the initial cost to changeover from coal to wind, oil to solar or geothermal, that initial cost is high. It takes time for new tech to start paying for itself. But in the long run it pays for itself. Shell out the money to buy in bulk today ... save over the long term. Simple math. 

Yes, recycling has hardly been streamlined here in the U.S. at least. In some cases it costs more to recycle a widget than it does to chuck it and make a new one. But that too is growing in efficiency. 

So as best as I can tell, if us tree huggers are wrong, the worst that's happened is that the oil mogul's great-grandchildren's trust funds won't be as big. In the short term we spent some extra bucks changing to green energy, but we would have had to do that eventually anyway.

Oh, and Al Gore got rich off some books. That seems to be the number one what-we-have-to-lose that I hear from the anti-AGW crowd. Because it is just such a global disaster for Al Gore to sell books. 

Can anyone else tell me how I am bringing about the demise of our civilization by recycling my plastics and going solar?

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Bill S - I fully agree with everything you just said. Even the "Tree hugger" bit. I use that term tongue-in-cheek and because to some it's such a nasty, name-calling term. Personally, I don't mind it.

Though in many parts of Arizona, I like to joke that we aren't tree huggers, we're tree kissers. Get your face up close to a ponderosa pine and its sap smells like vanilla or butterscotch. Mmmmmmm........

But when I put on my tour-guide hat, I like to emphasize that you don't have to be a vegan environmentalist to be green and Earth-friendly. I think a lot of people hear 'green' and they roll their eyes; "Now you're going to tell me I have to trade in my car for a bicycle and live off nuts and berries from the health food store."

Not at all. I think small steps in the right direction will make a world of difference.
Clearly you have not hugged the truly sexy trees of the Olympic Rain Forest. Ahhhhhhhhhh!
Haven't really hugged any trees, but I have licked a few bushes.
It seems like the main risk is in unforeseen consequences. Lots of inventions and innovations had unforeseen consequences--no one predicted that CFCs would put a hole in the ozone layer. The same thing can happen with something that is meant to replace something environmentally harmful--it could harm the environment in some other way. Even so, I still think it's better to try new things.

I would love it if the treehuggers were wrong about this. I think most of them would rather be wrong, too.
Again, go to google images and search for "peak oil."

I'll bet you can find any number of HyperBobsBlog type pages that say "God provides, our oil is unlimited."

But I'm a little more trusting that something endorsed by a major university or credible science sources didn't just pull the data out of their ass.

If the OP graph is bull-shite, surely you know this because you've seen the trusted evidence from some other source. Unless it's bull-shite because you want it to be and now you're looking for facts to support your conclusion, instead of following facts to see where they lead...
I bet you I can also find a doctor out there who will say smoking isn't bad for you. Does that one doctor cancel out all the rest? What if that doctor is working for Phillip Morris?

So I have little doubt that there are a couple of scientists out there who will say we're nowhere near peak oil. Particularly the ones who are paid by oil companies interested in getting government funding into their product, not in someone else's hippy wind field.

And even then, your best argument is that we have enough oil to "easily support decades of use... maybe centuries."

Kind of like how some on Easter Island might have said, "Gee, at this rate all our trees for fuel and building will be gone in five or six generations. Oh well, sucks to be them. Hand me that axe and make me another statue!"

It's becoming clearer and clear that your stance on this is that the only consideration is those who will be dead within the next 50 years or so. Everyone else can suck it.

And like I said, this is a valid argument of how going green does indeed harm. To me, not at all a wise or moral argument, but from the prospective of cold, hard, me-me-me numbers, more than valid.

In a way, it's kind of what I was fishing for.

So, does anyone else have a way this hurts our grandchildren's grandchildren?
you keep changing the subject and it is frustrating. My last post was very specifically about your claim about peak oil. You just tossed in a story about Easter Island. I was not discussing Easter Island.

The subject of this thread is over-dependence on finite sources and what is the harm in moving towards clean, green renewables before it becomes a time-critical emergency? Easter Island is a real-world example of what happens when an isolated population (like how we are isolated here on planet Earth) continues to use up its finite resources until those resources are gone. Very on-topic.

I still say your peak oil chart is utter nonsense, ... You have provided no evidence to refute my sources.

And so far the only evidence you've given me for this
- A) You personally don't believe it.
- B) Contradictory findings from an oil company (which is a lot like a doctor paid by the tobacco company to tell you that smoking is good for you).
- C) A Wikipedia page whose chart pretty much matches the one in my OP.

I'd say this so far bodes well for the graph I found which I used for its ease of understanding, tongue-in-cheek commentary, and general consensus with other reports I've seen from other credible sources. Sources like CNN and
National Geographic.

Most every article I've read, every mention in a documentary, states that it's hard to know exactly, but accurate to say that we are roughly at or at best within a decade or two of Peak Oil. Like Climate Change in general, it's something not easy to pinpoint and like you say, we could go drilling for new sources. But the common wisdom on this side of the fence is "Why keep pouring money into something we know is finite, when we could instead pour that money into a source that is infinite?"

And furthermore ... (god I just can't stop) your chart as already proven wrong. It is the year 2010 last time I checked. What did your chart show about 2010???

According to this chart, now a few years old, 2010 falls under "Unemployment and Recession." Is that not what the U.S. is in right now? Preceding it is "Price spikes and profiteering." One of the hot topics of '07/'08.

Oh - and PS - Why does your source also have a picture of a kid levitating a tea pot?

Convenient that you include just the picture but not whatever story might go with it. As the teapot is obviously metal, it looks to me like the 'kid' is working with magnetic fields. You never held two magnets together as a kid to see how they repel each other? Almost as if one magnet is levitating over the other one? You've never seen those pen/pen-holder sets you can buy where the pen is 'levitating' inside the holder? Magnetics. Interesting stuff. Very science-geeky. Hardly discredits the site.
Back in 1982, I stayed with a psychiatrist in Geneva who had applied for a job at Phillip Morris. He told me they were going to pay him handsomely for a job that involved little work. He turned it down on ethical grounds. (He was an atheist - BTW)

What did they ask him to do that was unethical? He was asked to sign a paper saying that nicotine was a food - not a drug. Know, first, he knew if you could choke down one cigar and not vomit it right back up, the nicotine would shut down enough of your nervous system to kill you. He also was well aware that nicotine - with some beneficial effects on the endocrine system when taken in small doses - is a drug - at best - and only in small doses. Meanwhile, he also knew that the tobacco companies didn't want to have their products regulated as a food product because that would require ingredient labeling. So - even without the obvious fact that cigarettes were a known carcinogen - he couldn't sign. But he was also well aware that someone with as many qualifications as he had did, eventually, sign that piece of paper.
John D - let me ask you this: Assuming you believe in Evolution, why?

- I could attach a graph or picture of a fossil and it could just as easily be a lie to perpetuate an agenda.

- I could mention that an overwhelming majority of scientists believe in evolution, and like with Climate Change, you could go out and find three or four who don't.

- Like Climate Change, Evolution is very inexact. Most of it is based on theoretical models. We can not agree on an exact date Homo Sapiens emerged to within a few tens of thousands of years.

- Missing links abound: Why did we lose our fur? What prompted us to walk on two feet? Why did we retain 'fur' on our heads and in the cases of males, faces?

- As with Climate Change, Evolution is a very politically charged subject.

- The vast majority of sources that promote evolution also promote AGW.

So why believe in it? I personally see less solid evidence for Evolution as I do for the notion that pollution = bad for the environment. Other than both make the most logical sense to me.

So is that really what it comes down to? The concept that pissing in our collective bed is bad for the bed doesn't make sense to you, like the idea of survival of the fittest and natural selection doesn't make sense to some others?
Do you understand analogies at all? She is saying that the arguments you are putting forth against AGW are similar (if not the same) as arguments put forth against evolution?
In other words Susan, he doesn't really understand analogies.

"X has an overwhelming majority of the scientific community behind it."

"The data for X is not exact. We can not predict with absolute certainty that X will be the precise cause of illness or death for Y on such-and-such a specific date."

"Accepting X means I would probably feel some moral obligation to give up habit Z, and I don't want to feel that way."

"My favorite politician/TV pundit/talk radio host thinks that X is bunk. Therefore, so do I."

Fact is, even if all those scientists are wrong and the fat talk radio host is right, giving up habit Z does zero harm whatsoever and has other, good consequences unrelated to X.

X=Smoking increases risk of lung cancer
Y=Bob, the 18 year old who just took up smoking
Z=Smoking

Or

X=Anthropogenic Climate Change.
Y=Earth
Z=Dependence on fossil fuels.

See? Analogy!
John - I did no research on this. But if you are suggesting that fossil fuels are an inexhaustible resource, representing clean burning energy, supplied by harmless regimes with no ideological hatred of their customers... So, what I'm saying is this - it might not be 'accurate' - but it illustrates a valid point, nonetheless.

And I'm not just talking about global warming. Large, oligarchical oil cartels whose members are theocrats, aristocrats, and autocrats (OPEC - real, overt, not conspiracies), large, multi-national corporations making huge profits that concentrate economic power, a money stream that gets into the hands of people who want to kill as many of us as possible, sources that are in the middle of our dwindling natural world, oil spills that profoundly damage ecosystems and other economies like fishing, etc. is the current status quo.

Man - its like the BMW engineer said: If petroleum were proposed as a fuel today instead of a hundred years ago, whoever proposed it would be laughed out of the room.

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